On Tuesday 17th October, Dan Lee (Lead for Physical Activity), Georgia Puckett (Programme Manager and Nutritionist) and Rose Webb (Director of Marketing and Communications) attended the Houses of Parliament for the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for a Fit and Healthy Childhood report on ‘Physical Activity in Early Childhood’.
Mytime Active is a member of the group, whose purpose is to promote evidence-based discussion and produce reports on all aspects of childhood health and wellbeing including obesity, to inform policy decisions and public debate relating to childhood, and to enable communications between interested parties and relevant parliamentarians.
The report is divided into themed subject chapters with recommendations which are hoped to influence active Government policy. The subject themes include:
- The quality, nature and diversity of current provision
- Physical activity best practice in pre-pregnancy, antenatal and postnatal period, for parents/carers and baby
- The role of government, local authorities, voluntary organisations and businesses in promoting and facilitating a range of physical activity opportunities
- The role of advertising, traditional and social media and technology in promoting early childhood physical activity
- The relation of physical activity to cognitive and academic progress
- The relevance of physical activity to children with a mental/physical impairment
- How infant and baby swimming helps to achieve the physical, cognitive and emotional goals for young children and families
The report places emphasis on the importance of accessible, sustainable and informative programmes of physical activity as essential components of child health and wellbeing.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) advises that physical activity should be encouraged from birth and incorporated from very early on to become part of normal everyday life. Trends show children who are physically active from a younger age are more likely to become physically active adults.
Children who can walk on their own should be physically active for at least 180 minutes (three hours) every day, while children and young people aged 5 to 18 should aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, which should be of moderate to vigorous activity.
The report makes 75 recommendations, including:
- A national-curriculum framework that endorses outdoor play and learning, with Ofsted challenging its ineffective delivery
- The national curriculum should include examples of how physical activity can be included in the classroom, as part of traditional learning
- Create national quality guidelines for early-years physical development and physical activity
- All teachers, including headteachers, to receive a minimum of 20 hours of training, updated every five years, on enabling and delivering playtime learning
- Every early-years setting and primary school should aim to provide a high quality of outdoor-play provision
- National bodies for PE and sport are to prioritise funding for children with disabilities, in order to improve access and participation
- Where appropriate, a proportion of the primary PE and school sports premium should be spent on targeting disabled children between the ages of five and seven, to increase physical activity throughout the day
Dan Lee, who contributed to the report, commented:
"I was delighted to make a contribution to the report and proud that the family-based work Mytime Active is doing has been recognised as pioneering best practice. Getting families to sit less, move more and eat well isn’t as easy as it might sound. It takes a committed team of staff who are passionate about enabling families to make healthier choices. By helping children and their parents/carers understand how they can increase their day-to-day activity levels and how physical activity can be both fun and beneficial, we’re helping to set them up for the best start in life."
The National Child Measurement Programme results for 2014/15 show that 19.1% of children in Year 6 (aged 10-11) were obese and a further 14.2% were overweight. Of children in Reception (aged 4-5), 9.1% were obese and another 12.8% were overweight.
This means a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese. MEND in Schools, Mytime Active’s multi-component whole-school approach healthy lifestyle programme was highlighted in the report as another example of good practice to help combat this issue.
MEND in Schools addresses the increasing evidence base that commissioning services for children should be holistic whilst pooling limited resources. Services addressing physical activity in isolation are less likely to achieve the goals of sustained behaviour change and long term outcomes.